Whom do you trust?

Groucho Marx was a big fan of Gilbert and Sullivan. He often played recordings of their comic operettas at home to the annoyance of his wife.

One day Groucho said to her, “did you know that Gilbert couldn’t stand Sullivan and Sullivan couldn’t stand Gilbert?” The long-suffering woman replied, “it doesn’t surprise me, I can’t stand either one of them.”

That line came back to me when I read the first paragraph of the Washington Post’s lead story today (paper edition):

Many liberals don’t trust moderates. Key moderates no longer trust congressional leaders or the White House. And few in the House trust the Senate.

This doesn’t surprise me. I don’t trust any of them.

In politics, however, interest matters more than trust. President Trump probably didn’t trust, or like, most congressional Republicans. Many of them certainly neither liked nor trusted Trump.

Yet they managed to implement about as much of Trump’s agenda as was possible, given Democratic opposition.

In the case of the Democrats today, it’s clearly in the interest of “liberals,” “moderates,” congressional leaders, the White House, and the Senate to enact legislation that will result in $2.5 trillion or somewhat more in spending on projects all factions favor to some degree. Thus, it still seems to me that, trust or no trust, the legislation will eventually be enacted.

But this outcome is far from guaranteed. That’s because Joe Manchin has veto power over this matter, and his interest in passing $2.5 trillion in spending does not appear to be strong.

Manchin does seem to have a strong interest in passing a $1 trillion infrastructure package, and that interest provides reason for hope among his Democratic colleagues and the White House that he can be pressured into going along with a $2.5 trillion package or maybe a somewhat bigger one.

But if the hard leftists and/or the White House overplay that hand, Manchin might still walk away, especially if inflationary pressure continues to build.

If the Democrats aren’t careful, Manchin might end up playing the Lord High Executioner in this operetta.

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